By Benjamin Cost
Despite threatening earlier to cancel the enterprise, China Three Gorges Corp will now follow through with the $1.6 billion West Seti River hydropower project in an effort to “recharge” Nepal’s lacking electricity reserves and promote the nation’s development. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Lawmakers had raised concerns that Nepal’s government had awarded the contract without opening it up to international bidding, prompting the Chinese company to threaten in a letter to the government in March that it would scrap the project unless things moved forward.
Shanta Chaudhary, head of the parliamentary committee on natural resources, said Monday the committee had decided to approve the project, providing China Three Gorges Corp. meets some criteria, which include routing the investment through the country’s newly formed Nepal Investment Board.
“We have decided that the project should go ahead after due corrections in the agreement between the government and the company,” Ms. Chaudhary said, adding that the committee took the decision in a meeting Sunday.
Construction on the dam will begin in 2015 with completion slated for December 2019, upon which Nepal’s power reserves – which currently generate around 650 mw compared with its 200,00-mw-capacity of untapped water resources – will see a major boost due to the plant’s 750-megawatt capacity.
Experts believe the project will pave the way for a complete power renovation of the Himalayan nations which will bolster the region’s infrastructure. Already, rival hydroelectric titans such as Sinohydro Corp have begun constructing their own dams while other companies like the state-owned China Datang Corporation, are investing in the territory.
Nonetheless, China must remain cautious about the undertaking, especially considering the recent Myanmar catastrophe, where the civilian government suspended the construction of a Chinese dam over environmental concerns – which have become a point of controversy for many neighboring countries where Chinese projects are taking place.